Loyola University Maryland

Center for Community Service and Justice (CCSJ)

Encounter El Salvador Program Description

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“But no point of view is ever neutral or value-free. By preference, by option, our Jesuit point of view is that of the poor.”

Fr. Peter Hans Kolvenbach, S.J.

Encounter El Salvador began in 1998. This International Immersion Program takes place in El Salvador for 10 days right after graduation in late May. Participants commit year long to team meetings which include educational orientation, reflection, team building and fundraising. Encounter El Salvador collaborates with the Project Mexico Auction.

The group is selected in early September at the same time as the Project Mexico team. It consists of 9 undergraduate students (sophomores, juniors or seniors); 4 graduate students, faculty, staff or administrators; and 2 co-coordinators. This immersion trip focuses on experiential learning and service of presence. The team spends most of the 10 days in San Salvador meeting with various governmental and non-governmental organizations and learning from their diverse perspectives. We also spend a weekend in a rural town and witness the community's joys and struggles.

Mission Statement

Inspired by the spirit of justice, and grounded in our commitment to solidarity, our mission is:

  • To build relationships with Salvadoran people from diverse communities
  • To educate ourselves about social justice issues by meeting with and learning from a variety of local groups and grassroots organizations
  • To deepen our understanding of the trauma of war and the power of healing in a rural community
  • To recognize the value of accompanying the Salvadoran people in their struggle for justice
  • To allow ourselves to be transformed by this experience, so that we begin to understand our personal responsibility to foster change and promote human dignity in the face of oppressive systems

Educational Goals

  • To introduce participants to the history, political, social, economic, cultural and spiritual life of El Salvador
  • To introduce participants to critical justice issues that face El Salvador, including
    • Globalization and its impact on El Salvador (CAFTA)
    • Human rights during the civil war and post-war
    • Migration and immigration
    • Church and Jesuit involvement and martyrs
    • The ability of rural communities to organize and work for sustainable development
    • On-going reflection based on Jesuit values and Catholic Social Teachings
    • The need to move beyond the individual experience and act to advocate for justice

Program Components/ Commitments

  • Three meetings in the fall semester
  • Participation in the auction in November
  • Commitment to help organize the Commemoration of the Salvadorian Martyrs
  • Salvadoran Craft Sale in early December
  • Group meetings in spring (every other week until Spring Break, every week after that)
  • Personal fundraising
  • Overnight retreat
  • "Fiesta" fundraising event in the spring
  • Various educational activities